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THEN & NOW: St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

The Owen Street church, considered to be rather elaborate in design these days, was thought to be quite plain back in the 1880s

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

The Reverend Andrew Bell is reported to have held the first Presbyterian (Church of Scotland) service in Barrie on Sept. 17, 1843.

In 1844, the members of the church in Barrie and area secured property shown as Lot 8 north Blake and Lot 4 south Collingwood streets for the site of their church and manse.

South Duckworth Place, which was a gore in the intersection of Codrington, Duckworth and St. Vincent streets, was chosen for a cemetery.

A Presbyterian church was never built on those original lots, as railway executive and Toronto MPP Joseph Curran Morrison gave the congregation a piece of property in 1850, on the north side of Collier Street between Clapperton and Owen streets.

There was, however, a ‘Scotch Burying Ground’ established that same year on the site east of Duckworth and St. Vincent streets, just below Codrington.

The burial ground was closed in 1907. Local historian Andrew Hunter estimated there were about 96 graves on the site as of 1901.

On June 15, 1875, the Barrie Presbyterian Church became part of the new Presbyterian Church of Canada.

By 1880, they had outgrown their building on Collier Street and had purchased the lot immediately to the north of the church.

Within two years, they had discarded plans to rebuild on that site in favour of another lot situated at the corner of Owen and Worsley, their current location today.

The new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church opened Feb. 25, 1883. The Very Reverend Dr. George Munro Grant, principal of Queen’s College, presided over the first service.

The church, considered to be rather elaborate in design these days, was thought to be quite plain back then.

Their former location on Collier Street was sold to the Salvation Army, then in 1895, it was sold to Trinity Anglican Church for their expansion.

There is no record of the actual date, but the church has been referred to as St Andrew’s Presbyterian since the early 1900s.

In 1910, St. Andrew’s, along with Collier Street, Elizabeth Street Methodist and Trinity Anglican churches formed a Sunday School hockey league.

On Jan. 15, 1998, St. Andrew’s first opened its doors to another winter initiative  the new Barrie Out of the Cold program  and continued to be part of the emergency shelter system for the next 20 years. 

St. Andrew's is still an active downtown church today.